Judas Priest, one of England’s most iconic and enduring heavy metal pioneers, is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a May 28 release of Epitaph (via Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment), a live Blu-ray disc and DVD featuring 23 classic tracks recorded almost one year ago (May 26, 2012) on the final night of its final world tour ever (which was 50 weeks long). Recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, this truly special release features at least one song from each of JP’s 14 studio albums it recorded with legendary singer Rob Halford, from 1974’s Rocka Rolla through 2008’s concept album, Nostradamus. It is their most truly comprehensive live set to date.
Though Judas Priest initially started out in late 1970 with a different singer (Al Atkins) and had a more blues rock-based direction, 1973 marked the year Halford, one of the most gifted male singers in rock history, joined the band (which had also begun by then to take on a more hard rock/metal direction). Thus, Judas Priest is in essence celebrating the 40th anniversary of the start of the Halford era.
The upcoming release features the expected classic metal tracks and fan favorites from their ’70s output, including epic cuts like “Victim of Changes,” from 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny, along with “Hell Bent for Leather” and (their popular Fleetwood Mac cover) “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown),” both of which are from the 1979 HBFL album. There are even more cuts from their ’80s catalog (their most commercially successful period), including four from British Steel (hits “Living After Midnight,” “Breaking the Law,” along with the influential early speed metal classic “Rapid Fire” and “Metal Gods”), as well as more rarely played songs like “Blood Red Skies” (from 1988’s Ram It Down).
The lineup for this one-of-a-kind show consisted of Halford, longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton, longtime bassist and band co-founder Ian Hill, drummer Scott Travis, and guitarist Richie Faulkner, who took over for retired six-stringer and band co-founder K.K. Downing in 2011.
The full tracklist of Epitaph, complete with an album index for all selections, can be viewed here.
Fans will also be pleased to know that Judas Priest plans to follow this release up with a new studio album it is currently working on.